The Pinkertons knew her as "Ethel,” "Ethal,” "Eva," and "Rita" before finally settling on "Etta" Place for their wanted posters.After Sundance introduced her to Robert Parker (Butch Cassidy), the three joined the rest of their Wild Bunch gang and set off on a spree of bank, stagecoach, and train robberies. With the law hot on their heels, they rode up to Robber’s Roost in southwestern Utah where they laid low until word reached local authorities of their whereabouts.On the run again, Place accompanied Longabaugh to New York City where on February 20, 1901, she sailed with Butch and Sundance, posing as Etta’s fictional brother "James Ryan," aboard the British ship, Herminius, for Buenos Aires.On December 19, 1904, Place, Longabaugh, Parker, and an unknown male robbed the Banco de la Nacion in Villa Mercedes, four hundred miles west of Buenos Aires. Pursued by armed federales, they crossed the Pampas and the Andes and returned to Chile, but Place had grown tired of life on the run and deeply lamented the loss of their ranch and the promise of stability it had held for her. In June 1906, Longabaugh accompanied her from Valparaiso, Chile, to San Francisco, where she kissed him goodbye for the last time before he returned to South America and infamy.
Born and raised in Chicago, D. J. Herda worked for years at The Chicago Tribune, as well as at numerous other Chicago-area newspapers and magazines, before becoming an internationally syndicated columnist. Herda’s interest in Western Americana goes back to his childhood. He is the author of Calamity Jane: The Life and Legend of Martha Jane Cannary, The Never-Ending Lives of Liver-Eating Johnson, and articles for American West, Arizona Highways, and other magazines. D. J. Herda has lived in the Rocky Mountains of the southwestern United States for nearly three decades.
Mention of the American Old West outlaw, the Sundance Kid, invariably calls to mind his equally infamous partner in crime, Butch Cassidy. Few people realize that another member of their gang was a beautiful, mysterious woman who went by the pseudonym of Etta Place. The consort of Sundance appeared out of nowhere, and her fate after her lover’s demise has long been one of the Old West's most intriguing riddles. Now, in this first biography of Etta Place, D. J. Herda lifts the veil of secrecy surrounding her. It is a tale as wild and daring as the men she ran with.
D. J. Herda’s comprehensive research of this historical figure brings to life an old saying with a twist: Behind every good outlaw is a great woman! What a story. Etta was surely the star of the show. She was so elegant and “proper” even through the worst of times.
No one knows to this day where Wild Bunch gang member Etta Place came from. But history records her riding with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, whom she “married.” When the heat from local law enforcement and the Pinkerton Detective Agency got too hot to handle, the three sailed to Argentina to begin life anew as ranchers. But within a few years, Butch and Sundance were dead, Etta had disappeared once more, and the rumors began to swirl. What a headstrong and intelligent woman. And what a story! A great read for anyone interested in the Old West and true-life mysteries.
A woman with no beginning and no end. That’s Etta Place in a nutshell. She broke onto the stage in her early twenties and departed a scant decade later. In between, she captured the heart and soul of a nation, just as author D. J. Herda captured her spirit. A stunning and revelatory work of relentless investigative reporting and superb, rich narrative.